The jointly funded research project ReUSE (Repetitive Utilization of Structural Elements) started in April 2013 and continued until December 2014.

The project addresses the potential and challenges currently facing the re-use of elements from existing buildings and design for re-use in new buildings in order to support sustainable growth by reducing C&D waste, pollution, natural resources consumption, and the costs of manufacturing such elements. The project has a particular focus on larger structural elements in commercial, industrial and residential buildings (columns, beams, wall panels, and floor and roof elements) connected by mechanical joints and made for instance from steel, precast concrete, engineered timber (e.g. CLT, LVL, glulam) or timber-based materials. Many of these elements are currently difficult to re-use in new buildings; recycling, other recovery means or disposal thus create a considerable environmental burden. Re-use is of course different from recycling itself for which the elements will not be transformed (repaired, repainted, recoated) but sent to the recycling facility.

 

Re-use, an alternative solution to recycling and remanufacturing, exploits the potential of existing technologies and services but also introduces new ones creating business opportunities for existing and newly emerging companies. The goal of re-use is to support such recovery processes that result in the same grade of product, no down-grading should occur; and the recovery should be as cheap as possible in terms of money and environmental impacts. Some remanufacturing may be required even in case of re-use, but the cost should be generally much less compared to recycling by e.g. re-melting steel. For larger scale re-use to become feasible, we consider the whole life-cycle of building elements. Therefore, current technological and institutional factors as well as existing government interventions and policies that either promote or (potentially) hinder re-use of building components are addressed within the project. Selected topics were studied, discussed and evaluated together with stakeholders in several seminars.